SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHOT
Negotiators talking to Ala. captor through pipe
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Negotiators have been talking through a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe to a man holding a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground shelter in rural Alabama.
The standoff entered its second full day Thursday after authorities said a gunman pulled the boy off a school bus and killed the driver Tuesday.
The police chief of the adjacent town of Pinckard, James Arrington, says that the two are in a bunker that's about 4 feet underground and has about 6-by-8 feet of floor space.
He says the man identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes has been sleeping some.
The chief also says the man holds strong anti-government views and the FBI has reason to believe the shooting of the driver was a hate crime.
ATLANTA SCHOOL SHOOTING
Authorities: Teen wounded in Ga. school shooting
ATLANTA (AP) — Authorities say a 14-year-old has been wounded in a shooting at an Atlanta middle school and a suspect has been taken into custody.
Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos says the wounded student has been taken "alert, conscious and breathing" to Grady Hospital.
He says the suspect has been tentatively identified as a student and all other students at the school are safe. Campos says the teen was shot outside of the school building Thursday afternoon.
Atlanta Fire Cpt. Marian McDaniel says the teen was shot in the head. McDaniel says a teacher suffered minor cuts and bruises, but was treated on the scene about 2 miles south of downtown.
TV news helicopters show a swarm of Atlanta police officers at the school and parents standing outside.
NEW: Biden says gun curbs won't end mass killings
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden says curbs on guns can reduce firearm deaths but won't ensure an end to mass killings like December's slaying of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn.
Biden met with Senate Democrats on Thursday to urge them to support the gun restrictions that President Barack Obama has proposed. They include bans on assault weapons and on high-capacity magazines for ammunition and requiring all gun buyers to undergo background checks.
After that session, Biden told reporters that the administration's plans would not eliminate the chances of another mass shooting, or bring gun deaths down to 1,000 yearly from the current 30,000 estimated by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.
Biden said lives can be saved by curbing firearms without restricting the right to bear arms.
Hagel on the defensive over past statements
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel has been put on the spot today by Republican members of the Senate panel considering his nomination to be defense secretary.
He's been challenged over his past statements on Israel, Iran, Iraq and nuclear weapons.
Sen. John McCain, a supporter of the troop "surge" in Iraq in 2007, tried to get Hagel to admit he was wrong in opposing that influx of 30,000 U.S. troops. Hagel -- who has said the Iraq war shifted the focus from Afghanistan -- said he would "defer to the judgment of history" to sort that out.
Republicans repeatedly questioned Hagel about a study that he co-authored last year that called for an 80 percent cut in U.S. nuclear weapons, and elimination of all nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Hagel said the report was illustrative, and that it wasn't realistic to consider unilateral reductions.
And Sen. Lindsey Graham was harshly critical of Hagel for failing to sign letters in past years on designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization and backing Israel.
Pushing back against the criticism, Hagel said there's no one vote or statement that defines him or his beliefs.
Hagel appears to be on a path to confirmation despite the Republican opposition.
NEW: Congress passes bill to extend borrowing authority
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has approved must-do legislation to permit the government to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars more to meet its obligations, averting a first-ever government default that had loomed as early as mid-February.
The 64-34 vote in the Senate on Thursday sends the measure to President Barack Obama, who has said he will sign it into law.
The legislation would temporarily suspend the $16.4 trillion limit on federal borrowing. Experts say that would allow the government to borrow about $450 billion to meet interest payments and obligations like Social Security benefits and government salaries.
Calculations by a Washington-based think tank, the Bipartisan Policy Center, indicate that the deadline for Congress to act again to prevent default would likely not come until August.
The Republican-controlled House passed the legislation last week.
UPDATE: Stocks drift lower, paring January gains
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks drifted lower Thursday, but the Standard & Poor's 500 still logged its best January since 1997.
The Standard and Poor's 500 fell 4 points to 1,498, gaining 5.1 percent for the month. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 50 points to 13,860. It's up 5.8 percent this month.
The Nasdaq composite fell a fraction to 3,142. It's up 4.1 percent this month.
Stocks got a small lift early Thursday from a report on business activity in the Chicago area before drifting lower. The Chicago Business Barometer for January came in at 55.6, a higher reading than analysts had forecast. Readings above 50 indicate that economic activity is expanding.
Advancing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange outpaced declining ones. Volume of 3.9 billion shares was above average.
WALL STREET JOURNAL-HACKING
NEW: Wall Street Journal infiltrated by Chinese hackers
NEW YORK (AP) — The Wall Street Journal says its computer systems have been infiltrated by Chinese hackers who were trying to monitor the newspaper's coverage of China.
A spokeswoman for Dow Jones & Co., the newspaper's publisher, says the Journal completed a network overhaul to bolster security on Thursday.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Chinese hackers repeatedly penetrated its computer systems and stole reporters' passwords. The Times said the hackers were hunting for files on an investigation into wealth amassed by the family of a top Chinese leader.
The Journal didn't address how the hacking of its systems occurred, but it said it has faced such threats from China in recent years. It says the hacking was not an attempt to "gain commercial advantage or to misappropriate customer information."
NEW: Spokesman: Ex-NYC mayor Koch in intensive care
NEW YORK (AP) — The spokesman for Ed Koch (KAHCH') says the former New York City mayor has been moved to intensive care.
Spokesman George Arzt said Thursday that Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, who's Koch's cardiologist and lead doctor, wanted to monitor the former mayor more closely.
The 88-year-old Koch was readmitted to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital on Monday. He'd been released two days earlier after being treated for water in his lungs and legs.
Arzt said Tuesday that doctors were still trying to reduce the fluid. Koch also was showing an iron deficiency.
On Tuesday night, a new documentary about Koch's career premiered at the Museum of Modern Art.
Koch initially went to the hospital on Jan. 19. He also was hospitalized in December with a respiratory infection and in September with anemia.
NEW: NJ Gov. Christie appearing Monday with Letterman
NEW YORK (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will soon be crossing the Hudson River to appear on "Late Show with David Letterman."
CBS says the colorful, outspoken Christie will make his first appearance with Letterman on Monday.
The guest shot follows numerous jokes by Letterman at the expense of Christie and his ample girth.
Christie termed his plumpness "fair game" for comedians at a 2011 news conference. But maybe he'll arrive for "Late Show" with some droll observations of his own to target Letterman.
"Late Show" airs on CBS at 11:35 p.m. EST.
UPDATE: Beyonce admits lip-sync at inauguration
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Beyonce says she did lip sync when she performed the national anthem on Inauguration Day.
The singer held a press conference Thursday in New Orleans days ahead of her half-time performance at the Super Bowl.
She said she's a "perfectionist" and wanted her performance for President Barack Obama to be a memorable one. She called the day "emotional."
Beyonce opened the press conference with live rendition of the national anthem.Tags: